[EM] Working with journalists

Anthony Simmons bbadonov at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 19 22:19:35 PST 2002

>> From: Alex Small <asmall at physics.ucsb.edu>
>> Subject: Re: [EM] Working with journalists

>> Anthony Simmons wrote:

>> >I tried to explain that petroleum is a source of new energy, while
>> >hydrogen gas contains energy that has to be put there by us from some
>> >other source.

>> Maybe this is just a semantic issue (I'm interpreting the
>> words differently from the way you're using them), but the
>> way I've always understood it, H2 and hydrocarbons are
>> both sources of energy, in the sense that when oxidized
>> the reaction is exothermic.

H2 isn't a source of new energy; petroleum and solar power
are.  If H2 is made by electrolysis using solar power, then
the replacement for petroleum is solar power, not H2.  This
might be a semantic technicality if H2 were always made using
solar power, but in reality most H2 is made from fossil fuel,
and this is not going to change soon.  (Look at the type of
generating capacity being built today)

If the day comes when H2 is always made using solar power, we
will be able to soften the line between the two without
significant error.  But right now, and foreseeably, there's
little connection between them.

It's probably off topic, but since we were talking about
similar problems with the press, I figure it's allowable.

By the way, Josh, if you've read this far (didn't want to
create another whole letter for the Mugabe thread), I just
read an article that gave Mugabe's percentage at 56.  You
were right.  I'm sure I saw 52; must have been an incomplete
count.  Incidentally, all hell is breaking loose in Zimbabwe
since the election, including a three-day general strike,
which is illegal.  It looks like the populace isn't going to
stand for a stolen election.  Scary stuff.

>> Anyway, this is off-topic, but I don't know in what sense
>> we have to put energy into hydrogen gas.  We just need to
>> expend energy to form it in the first place (from water,
>> normally).  Since in principle we should be able to use
>> solar energy to electrolyze water and form all the H2 that
>> we need, and since the oxidation of H2 only forms water
>> (assuming no N2 is around to form NOx due to the heat)
>> hydrogen fuel will some day give us all the cheap and
>> clean energy we could ever want.

>> Alex

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